Behemoth’s Nergal Wins Dismissal of Virgin Mary Blasphemy Case
Behemoth frontman Nergal was convicted earlier this year of "offending religious feelings" by posting an image of his shoe stamping over a photo of the Virgin Mary. At the time, he was fined PLN 15,000 (roughly $4,000) and ordered to pay court costs of an additional PLN 3,500 ($942). But after contesting the ruling, Nergal has won his appeal and the case has been dismissed.
In a ruling, the judge wrote that the photo in question that was posted by Nergal was only available on his social media and made available to a specific group of people who could read it only after seeing the disclaimer, "The content presented on this profile may offend your religious and other feelings. If you don't want that to happen, stop following me."
Having been granted his case dismissal, the Behemoth frontman stated in an Instagram post, "Case DISMISSED. There's NOTHING controversial about the jury's verdict so fuckin' DEAL with it. AFTER ALL we live in civilized and democratic country… still. Common sense beats the shit out of fundamentalist agenda which means on more step towards Poland remaining a secular state! Moreover, I know it's like talking to the wall but to all my adversaries: don't give me that 'do the same with Koran' bullshit coz it's old and irrelevant. I keep on spamming here coz I simply LOVE polarization between half of u dear followers congratulating me for the battle won and the other half… that would love see me crucifucked."
The musician, who has endured prior legal battles with the Polish government, was initially convicted back in February of this year. The judgement was initially handed down to Nergal as a prescriptive sentence, which meant the court issued the writ without a hearing.
In the past, Nergal won a case brought against him by the Polish government for ripping up a Bible onstage and calling the holy text a “book of lies.” Behemoth were also targeted after releasing a controversial T-shirt design which resembled the Polish national emblem.
Shortly after his latest conviction, Nergal launched the Ordo Blasfemia crowdfunding fund which was designed to financially assist other Polish artists with defense fees and court costs for those who have “offended religious feelings” as outlined in Paragraph 196 of the Polish Criminal Code. He also issued a statement on the crowdfunding page that read as follows:
My name is Nergal and I am an artist from Poland. For over a decade I have been confronted with numerous attempts to permanently destroy my career on the basis that I have harmed 'religious feelings'. It sounds absurd and I can assure you, it is.
Many Polish artists, including myself, have been dragged into court rooms, at our own significant costs, to defend ourselves against nonsensical blasphemy laws made by tenuous Politicans. Their intent is to censor anyone who does not conform to the archaic religious laws of our country. The time has come for Polish artists to fight back - join us in the Ordo Blasfemia.
Your donation will help fund a sustainable legal challenge to squash the existing and incoming bogus prosecutions. Help us reach the target so we can distribute to other artists facing their own legal challenges.
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“It’s just another excuse for all sorts of opportunists, pettifoggers, bullies to harass me under the banner of Catholic dogma,” Nergal added in a corresponding video. “But what does the situation tell about the [judicial] system in Poland? Many cases of pedophilia crimes among clergy are being secretly wiped up and the predators hardly ever face the law. And here, an artist is being convicted within a few days for what? Posting a photo on social media? It is absurd. It makes Polish justice look like a fuckin’ joke. And so it is.”